Thursday, June 01, 2006

New Busch: A Non-Fan’s Review

As I mentioned below, I was at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis to see a Cardinals game yesterday. The Cardinals won –but who cares. The big thing to see was the ball club’s new stadium.

First, let me say that I was there as part of a corporate group that rented a couple of the party rooms and all my food and beer was free to me so I didn’t have the “financial” experience mere mortals have to endure. Therefore, I really have no idea if the new stadium also means higher prices. But I’d bet on it.

My first impressions, as we made our way to our party room, weren’t that good. We wandered seemingly forever through hallways that might be part of some partially finished office building. Once in the room and out on the seats, the view was much like the old Busch. For obvious reasons, the ball filed itself was what anyone would expect but we were under another deck of seating and could not see the top of the stadium or the St. Louis skyline. I knew at this point I wasn’t getting the whole experience so I filled my cup with free beer (after stuffing myself with free food) and headed out to take a real, unsheltered if you will, look at the ballpark.

My second impressions were much better. Like most “modern” ballparks, the new Busch has more open areas, or plazas, to mill about in and buy overpriced food and merchandise. I like these plazas. I remember thinking that when I first hit the new Comiskey in Chicago in the early 1990s. As someone who likes to wonder, especially during slow events like a baseball game, this is nice as I can get up mill around and still be able to see the game if I care to. I’m not stuck in one seat.

There was even a charity giving haircuts in a center field plaza in full view of the game. I almost wished I had needed a haircut just to experience that.

There is also a bar, of sorts, behind center field with an open view of the action. It’s open to anyone. Care to guess what there limited beer menu consists of? Again, it’s nice to have that option and not be relegated to only the seat you purchased to get in.

I made my way up to the upper decks and was surprised how good of view you have up there. I almost preferred those seats to those in the party room since you had more a feel of being in a ballpark, including being able to see the city skyline. I also didn’t feel like I was in a nosebleed section. I remember trying out some of the upper-most seats in the new Comiskey and feeling I was miles away and that I was going to slide right down to the field as the angle was so steep. I felt none of that at new Busch.

The new Busch is barely finished. In fact, there are parts inside and out that obviously aren’t. It’s amazing how fast they got the stadium up and functioning. In fact, if you go to (I think) the north part of the park and look out, you can still see the massive hole where the old Busch once stood. The old Busch, I’m sure, held a lot of memories for people who, for whatever reason, actually like the Cardinals but I definitely like the new stadium more than the old.

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